Conservation Almanac




Massachusetts Profile of State Programs and Policy Framework

Highlighted Local Programs


Highlighted State Programs


State Policy Framework



To avoid double counting acres where multiple programs contributed to the acquisition of a single parcel, the acreage is only aggregated under the program that provided the majority of funding. For example, if the table below displays a dollar amount greater than $0 for a given year but shows 0 acres, the program was not the primary contributor for any parcels in that year. As a result, a prolific program may show very low acreage figures on this page. To see customized program information please visit the map viewer tab or contact the Conservation Almanac Team.

Highlighted Local Programs

Community Preservation Act (CPA)

Local program information is based solely on the Community Preservation Act (CPA), statewide enabling legislation that allows cities and towns to exercise control over local planning decisions.

CPA is a smart growth tool that helps communities preserve open space and historic sites, create affordable housing, and develop outdoor recreational facilities.

CPA enables municipalities to impose a (voter-approved) surcharge of up to 3 percent on a local property levy. As of November 2016, 172 of Massachusetts' 351 communities, or 49 percent had passed CPA. More information on CPA is included below in the “Enable Local financing” and “State Incentive for Local Land Conservation” sections.

Land Banks

While not included in the Conservation Almanac at this time, land banks are protecting land in Massachusetts as well. For example, the Nantucket Islands Land Bank (NILB) was conceived by Nantucket’s Planning Commission, adopted by the voters of Nantucket, and established by a special act of the Massachusetts Legislature in 1983. Its revenue is derived from a two percent real estate transfer fee which is levied against most real estate transfers on the island. In 2014, NILB transfer fees generated $17.7 million in revenue. NILB competes in the open market to acquire land which provides the public a range of benefits. NILB holdings are in the public trust and currently include beaches, wetlands, aquifer recharge areas, moorlands, heathlands, rare species habitat, ocean, pond and harbor frontage, and properties for passive and active recreation.

Additionally, The Cape Cod Land Bank (CCLB) was created by state legislation in 1999, to allow towns to acquire land and interests in land for the protection of public drinking water supplies, open space, and conservation land, the creation of walking and bicycling trails, and the creation of recreational areas. In 2005, 13 of the 15 towns on Cape Cod voted to convert the Cape Cod Land Bank Act in their towns to the Community Preservation Act, thereby ending the Cape Cod Land Bank. Two of the towns (Chatham and Provincetown), having previously adopted the Community Preservation Act in addition to the Cape Cod Land Bank, have both preservation programs in place.

The voters of Martha’s Vineyard also created a land bank in 1986. The Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank Commission gets its revenue from a 2% public surcharge on most real estate transfers occurring in the six towns.

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2011 2,099.8 $35,127,760
2010 1,535.9 $43,277,950
2009 2,355.9 $46,571,866
2008 1,376.1 $42,600,036
2007 2,055.2 $49,326,446
2006 2,979.1 $76,153,723
2005 1,728.8 $48,581,464
2004 1,113.2 $33,441,787
2003 1,016.8 $16,088,833
2002 406.2 $15,929,478
2001 229.4 $5,022,650
2000 0.0 $241,000
1999 42.2 $457,500
Totals 16,938.6 $412,820,495

Highlighted State Programs

Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources

Housed in the Department of Agricultural Resources, the Massachusetts Agricultural Preservation Restriction (APR) Program offers to pay farmers the difference between the "fair market value" and the "agricultural value" of their farmland in exchange for a permanent deed restriction. This agricultural preservation restriction precludes any use of the property that will have a negative impact on its agricultural viability. The legislature authorizes funding for the APR Program through environmental bond bills, and the governor issues bonds on an annual basis.

2011 180.6 $2,492,664
2010 1,421.6 $15,452,545
2009 1,812.9 $9,762,304
2008 1,245.1 $10,222,450
2007 712.9 $5,315,000
2006 1,357.2 $11,705,100
2005 1,094.3 $8,230,946
2004 1,129.2 $6,472,870
2003 797.8 $3,547,675
2002 1,344.8 $6,911,499
2001 2,990.3 $8,692,253
2000 3,381.2 $7,893,200
1999 2,159.8 $5,215,200
1998 604.3 $2,155,450
Total20,232.2 $104,069,157

Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation

The Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) is a state agency situated in the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. The Metropolitan District Commission (MDC) and the Department of Environmental Management (DEM) were merged to form the DCR. In addition to the grant programs offered, DCR acquires land through the Division of Water Supply Protection, Division of State Parks and Recreation, the Division of Urban Parks and Recreation and the Land Protection Planning Program. Funding is available through the Environmental Bond Fund and the Wachusett Land Acquisition Trust Fund.

2011 1,784.0 $6,396,331
2010 1,540.8 $6,973,600
2009 1,892.9 $8,389,000
2008 2,428.3 $16,887,702
2007 2,217.7 $10,652,125
2006 541.2 $4,853,800
2005 288.7 $1,806,804
2004 363.2 $4,102,550
2003 495.1 $2,445,200
2002 6,043.1 $24,922,048
2001 6,031.6 $20,980,675
2000 1,530.3 $4,222,400
1999 2,625.1 $18,713,400
1998 323.2 $1,500,001
Total28,105.2 $132,845,636

Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game

The Massachusetts Department of Fish & Game acquires land through purchases from the Inland Fish and Game Fund. Revenue from hunting, fishing, trapping, and license fees is collected through the Wetlands Stamp Program (1990) for habitat acquisition.

2011 1,995.0 $5,326,700
2010 2,276.4 $9,640,500
2009 4,984.4 $15,617,600
2008 5,298.8 $9,293,300
2007 2,096.7 $6,370,250
2006 2,776.1 $12,024,250
2005 4,791.3 $7,352,044
2004 1,225.2 $1,664,525
2003 1,141.0 $1,530,260
2002 9,526.9 $16,587,176
2001 7,200.3 $9,516,349
2000 12,159.2 $14,523,114
1999 3,607.1 $5,450,214
Total59,078.5 $114,896,282

Massachusetts Drinking Water Supply Protection Grant Program

Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, in conjunction with the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, administers the Drinking Water Supply Protection Program (DWSPP). This program, established in 2005 and funded by the Massachusetts state environmental bond, provides grant funding to municipalities and other eligible entities for the purpose of acquiring land to protect current or future public drinking water supplies or groundwater recharge. DWSPP is a reimbursement program. In addition, grant funds cannot exceed 50 percent of the total project cost. Funds are derived from state bond issuances.

2010 92.7 $510,000
2009 17.0 $1,422,763
2008 0.0 $1,766,055
2007 0.0 $1,934,300
2006 315.6 $2,068,694
2005 95.0 $1,839,509
Total520.3 $9,541,321

Massachusetts Conservation Partnership Grant Program

The Conservation Partnership Program was authorized by the Legislature in 2002. It is a grant program that provides reimbursements to non-profit organizations of up to 50 percent of the cost of acquiring land or interest in land for conservation or outdoor recreation purposes. All projects must grant a perpetual conservation restriction (easement), to either the city or town in which the project is located, or a state agency, or both. Funds are derived from bond expenditures.

2011 214.9 $727,013
2010 382.4 $1,038,510
2009 438.5 $872,759
2008 349.2 $1,022,347
2007 4.0 $160,148
2006 16.6 $138,202
2005 55.2 $162,000
Total1,460.7 $4,120,981

Massachusetts Parkland Acquisitions and Renovations for Communities (PARC) Grant Program

The Urban Self-Help Program, now known as the Parkland Acquisitions and Renovations for Communities Program (PARC) was established in 1977 to assist cities and towns in acquiring and developing land for park and outdoor recreation purposes. Any town with a population of 35,000 or more year-round residents, or any city regardless of size, that has an authorized park /recreation commission is eligible to participate in the program. Communities that do not meet the population criteria listed above may still qualify under the "small town," "regional," or "statewide" project provisions of the program.

Only projects that are to be developed for suitable outdoor recreation purposes, whether active or passive in nature, shall be considered for funding. Grants are available for the acquisition of land and the construction, or renovation of park and outdoor recreation facilities, such as swimming pools, zoos, athletic play fields, playgrounds and game courts. Access by the general public is required.

NOTE: This program is now called Parkland Acquisitions and Renovations for Communities (PARC)

2011 0.4 $403,200
2010 0.0 $130,000
2009 20.6 $387,925
2008 74.7 $623,640
2007 4.8 $1,227,688
2006 2.6 $500,000
2004 7.0 $400,000
2003 13.4 $748,500
2002 106.6 $1,838,700
2001 156.8 $238,120
1999 1.4 $80,500
Total388.1 $6,578,274

Massachusetts Local Acquisitions for Natural Diversity (LAND) Grant Program

The Self Help Grant Program is now known as the Massachusetts Local Acquisitions for Natural Diversity Program and was established in 1961 to assist municipal conservation commissions acquiring land for natural resource (wildlife, habitat, trails) and passive outdoor recreation purposes (hiking, fishing, hunting). Access by the general public is required. This state program pays for the acquisition of land, or a partial interest (such as a conservation restriction), and associated acquisition costs such as appraisal reports and closing costs. Funds are derived from bond expenditures.

NOTE: This program is now called Local Acquisitions for Natural Diversity (LAND)

In Massachusetts all municipal and private, non-profit organizations must get state approval from the Secretary of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EOEEA) in order to complete a conservation easement. (conservation restriction in MA). The approval process requires among other steps, a notice of registry and GIS data showing the boundary of the easement. MassGIS is a division within EOEEA that keeps record of all GIS data. Specific conservation data layers include: coastal and marine features, conservation/recreation, cultural resources.

2011 3.0 $5,018,700
2010 359.5 $4,157,101
2009 811.0 $7,079,026
2008 1,053.1 $7,409,560
2007 575.4 $4,511,243
2006 726.0 $4,100,300
2005 1,306.7 $4,967,001
2004 142.6 $1,431,181
2003 913.0 $4,393,373
2002 2,221.8 $8,669,780
2001 1,203.2 $3,605,133
2000 1,708.7 $6,574,865
1999 829.7 $13,535,296
Total11,853.5 $75,452,560

Landscape Partnership Program

Starting in FY2010 the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) will offer a new grant opportunity called the Landscape Partnership Program. This program will offer competitive grants to municipalities, non-profit organizations and EEA agencies to help fund partnership projects that permanently protect a minimum of 500 acres of land. The Landscape Partnership Program seeks to preserve large, unfragmented, high value conservation landscapes, including working forests and farms, expand state-municipal-private partnerships, increase leveraging of state dollars, enhance stewardship of conservation land, and provide public access opportunities. The program will also fund the development of Natural Resource Protection Zoning in partner municipalities. Conservation activity for this grant program will be available once the program has been implemented.

Data is not currently available for this program.

State Policy Framework

Substantial State Investment

Enable Local Financing

State Incentive for Local Land Conservation

Public-Private Partnerships

Conservation Tax Credits

Federal Partnerships

Some data was not provided on a yearly basis, but rather as an aggregate figure. In this case we have distributed total acres acquired and/or dollars spent evenly by year.